Day Four

We moved rooms today. They didn’t have a ฿200 room but they did have a ฿260 room that’s the same but also has it’s own bathroom. It’s not nearly as nice as the room we were in, which was nice to spend time in but it’s cheaper and all those baht add up and we need them at this point, especially that Lauren is wanting to do a trek to the highest peak of Thailand and to see the hill tribes. It does look good to be fair—it’s just that it costs ฿1300. the room is similar in decor to the last one but not as well maintained. The bolt on the door has nothing to bolt to, the window overlooks a narrow alleyway and makeshift wall strewn with plastic bottles, the bed has a dent in it, it’s smaller all around, there’s a picture of a child worker in a sweat shop on the wall and the toilet has vents above it that lead to the head of the bed. Nice.

Weather wasn’t too hot in the morning and we were able to walk down to Mickey’s Cafe where we got a tasty pad thai again, waters and a few sewer-esque smells wafting at us in the breeze. This weird middle-aged guy pulled up in a taxi and got helped out onto a zimmer frame. Usually I’d feel a bit bad on him except he was giving us evils and sat at the table next to ours and demanded that the fan be re-jigged to face him better. He was German and was trying to communicate with the waitress in German. He’s not English, so doesn’t have the privilege of expecting people to speak his native language.

After a lot of back and forthing and faffing with sun cream and jungle formula we headed to the museum. We got lost and ended up going down a lot of back roads looking for either the 7-11 or the museum. There were a lot of nice leafy roads but some scummy looking ones too. I didn’t feel unsafe at any point, which is good I suppose. There were plenty of swell heads knocking about to make fun of which kept us busy until we decided to go home and take a break anyway as it was really hot. Lauren looked after my mosquito bites, which were itching like hell and bright red, then we headed out to walk around the wall—well what’s left of it. It’s basically just the four main roads that make up the perimeter of the old town and follow a dirty moat type thing with small sections of what’s basically rubble on the corners. There were nice trees though. We got harassed by taxi drivers every ten seconds, so much so that we were having a sit down and moved cos it was that annoying them rolling past beeping and glaring hopingly out the windows at you.

On one side of the road on the inner side is a series of modern shops (Tescos, banks, bike rentals, etc) on the outskirts of town, and on the other the green waters in the moat ditch type thing. It wasn’t ugly to look at apart from a few areas with loads of litter but not pretty really either. There were some cool looking fish in there all gathered near the edge gasping at the surface. Beyond the moat were more roads hugging the square and more shops. Doesn’t feel very old-towny at all. there was a section of wall that was built up again that had a good picture up through the gate looking into the streets of the old town. Men with bags of seeds and cameras made pigeons flock over tourists as they snapped their pictures. There was some crazy American with a teeshirt made of dandruff who accosted us talking nonsense about a gathering in the square on the 28th about crowning people kings and queens of their home towns if they agreed with a number of vague, non-goals about freedom and stuff.

Image result for chiang mai thailand

At this point Lauren needed a wee and we decided that the walk was getting pretty samey anyway so we headed back. We’d toured through a little market obviously aimed at tourists but had some pretty cool looking purses and vests. There was a cockerel tied up by its leg by a little piece of string to a fence though. It crowed, and I imagined it was probably asking to be let loose. That old guy at the cafe was still there. He was sat with a beer and a pack of fags. He’d moved into our seat and had had the fan moved again. He was grouchily making the woman turn more lights on using hand gestures. I said to Lauren that it was so he could see properly as he cried into his pint.

After our wees we decided that we probably aren’t going to Laos and that we should go and spend the evening reading (and falling asleep) on the lounger pillows in the garden area. Oh, and when the wind blew the rooms smelled like a toilet. At least we didn’t bump into the latcher from the MBK.

Day Three

Got woken up after some sub-par sleep (cold and blanket too small, rickety train) by the tea or coffee lady. Thought the train was pulling in soon so got ready quickly but it took another hour and a half or so before it got in and I couldn’t see the morning view of the jungle recommended to us as the two girls were still being rude. We were the first off the train, and as we knew there would be a fight for the cheaper rooms we made a dash for the entrance looking for the bus stop. There were loads of cab drivers outside shouting stuff and people trying to flog Muay Thai courses etc. For ease we went with a taxi at ฿30 each. Thought it was a private taxi but we had to wait around until the whole back of the pick up type thing was full.

The drive up to our hotel seemed like a milder Bangkok really. A lot busier than I’d expected anyway, although there were more leaves around which is a plus. Our hotel is in the old town section, a part of town that is behind an old wall and a moat. The guide-book says “a furious stream of traffic flows around the old city but inside narrow streets lead to a quiet world of family-run guest houses and leafy-green gardens”. Now I don’t know what the place was like a year ago when the book was written, but I can only assume that the reason that the wall is in ruins is that all the traffic has rammed it down and started cruising around the old city too.

It’s not quiet; you can’t go fifteen feet without a taxi driver beeping at you trying to get you in the cab. The junctions aren’t as bad as Bangkok for sure, but it’s still an effort to cross and we found ourselves walking halfway down the road to be able to cross. It’s very touristy; bike rentals, restaurants, souvenir shops, etc. are everywhere. I wondered what the real city was like. Hopefully we can see some of that tomorrow.

The weather is a bit cooler which is nice. The hotel didn’t have the 200 room we wanted so we just went with the 350 for today to save lugging bags about. It’s got its own bathroom, fan and garden view while the 200 one is shared bathroom, no view and no fan. We’re trying to build up a surplus of money as it will probably be more expensive down at the islands so we will need it. It’s called Julie’s Guest House and it’s actually quite nice. In-house average priced food (haven’t tried it yet), rooms are clean, and the mosquito mesh is actually intact (wow!) and is down one of the actually quiet streets that is too small for the cars to get down. Pretty little garden type with planted trees and vines, although it is communal so anyone could just come up to you and start gabbing away at you while you’re trying to relax with your Kindle.

Had a little walk earlier and found a lil’ food place that knocked out a tasty ฿40 (£1) Pad Thai (although it may have tasted better cos i hadn’t eaten for 12 hours) then to the 7-11 to get water and cakes. We got charged extra for the cakes cos they were in the wrong place and we have no way of knowing what’s what.

Hoping to get some more things seen tomorrow, maybe on bikes, and we’re considering missing out Laos as it’s a big fuss and will take away from our Thailand time.

All in all quite a chilled out day. A bit disappointing in parts but not stressful, and I’ll take that any day of the week.

Day Two

What a day….started off packing our bags hurriedly after having a disturbed sleep due to the ants and my partial delirium, so didn’t get up early enough. Popped our bags on and scurried off into the burning sun.

We were 50/50 whether to get the sleeper train to Chiang Mai today or find a cheaper place to stay so that we didn’t have to spend more than the day’s budget on the train, so we agreed that if we hadn’t found anywhere after half an hour we’d sack it off and get the train anyway. After 40-odd minutes of struggling with the heat, bags and the homicidal drivers, and after nearly passing out, we had only found a ฿550 room so we decided to grab our malaria tabs from Boots and get gone. the station was close and cool underground, and we got to the shopping centre I remembered without much of a fuss.

A man did a really loud fart in the shopping place, and no one batted an eye—he even cocked his leg, the dirty beggar.

Oh yeah: everywhere you go—trains stations, shopping places, etc—there are security barriers, metal detectors, etc. Even when the machine goes off they just lazily shine a torch in your face. Pointless. So online it reckons you can get malaria tabs (doxycycline) from Boots on the cheap—you cant. They’re the same price as at home. So after budgeting 20-30 quid for 240 tabs we had to pay 80 quid for 190. I was gutted ‘cos that’s a good few days fun been taken out the budget. (Homemade butties for a while I think…) I put that on my credit card and had to find an ATM. After ages of finding machines that I thought had a set exchange-rate, I realised that it was asking if I wanted to withdraw in my home currency where they basically set the rate. Hell no, I dont. Don’t let that catch you out. Nightmare.

Some guy collared us as he recognised us from the hotel and said we were going the same place and we should meet up. I tried giving him a false FB account but it didn’t work, so I had to give him my real one. We exchanged pleasantries and parted ways. I’ll spend the next few days on guard in case he tries to socialise with us.

Popped into the MBK centre on the way back to Hualamphong station for food. Went the food court on the bottom floor, only ฿40 for a rich, steamed spicy veg and a bit of an omelette. I’d have enjoyed it more if Lauren hadn’t told me about the cockroach she saw running across the counter…Image result for mbk centre

Back into sweaty heat, we winged our way back to the station where we were told off by a Thai train station dude dressed in military gear (they love dressing like this) for sitting on the floor. Tourists were everywhere. (Last time I came I didn’t see one.) All the men were Joey Essex lookalikes except dressed in Primark vest tops and snapbacks, and the women really should have been wearing more clothes.

I needed a poo. ฿3 later I was in there. All the toilets were manky, with wee everywhere and no bog roll. Lauren had given me some tissue, but it wasnt enough to clean a single toilet even, so I opted for a squat. Worried I might slash on my shorts, I took them off one foot at a time to avoid stepping in the mess and hung ’em on the door. How wrong I was worrying about my urine splashing on me. Filthy Thai men’s pee came splashing under the walls at me from all angles. I dunno what they were playing at but they need to sort themselves out. Grown men sitting there making guttural sounds and spurting whizz everywhere, then cleaning their turds off with a glorified garden hose??

The train had sold out of cheap tickets so we had to get the AC770. Didn’t see one Thai person on the train. Preppy douchebags everywhere. We were on the top bunks opposite each other and contrary to common courtesy the girls on the bottom didn’t let us sit down on the chairs, so we spent the whole night sat on the top bunks with no window. The bunks are a bit hard and narrow and we popped our bags at the bottom so no one nicked anything. A little man came and hinted that it was bedtime at around 9.00pm, then chucked us off and started making the bed.

The train was an hour late setting off and was driven by a seemingly alcoholic driver. It was cold, too. The icing on the cake was when a preppy loser pulled out a ukulele and started having a little jamming sesh. I wished I was a Mr. Potato Head so I could take my ears out and toss them out of the window that we didn’t have.

Day One

Flew out from Manchester to Bangkok via Muscat using Omar Airways. There was a bit of sick on the floor at one of the gates and someone had covered it up with a M&S basket. Image result for muscat airportBoth my flights ended up being delayed by around 45 minutes each, which led to me and and my girlfriend Lauren having to run through Muscat airport like the scene off Home Alone (you know the one). Turns out that I’d read the board wrong and instead of heading to Bangkok at gate 17 we were heading to Bangalore at gate 22! Luckily it wasn’t too far away. I’ve since been banned from reading any important information.

At this point I should mention we were starving but the man on the plane said it was illegal to eat, drink or smoke until sun down as it’s a strict Muslim country and they were celebrating Ramadan. Worth either checking if your travel coincides with it or stuff your face before sunrise to avoid getting caught sneaking a Mars Bar and potentially get in trouble.

Got in to Bangkok late as I said and even though I’ve been before I forgot what to do. Turns out you don’t need a visa on arrival if you’re British; just take your arrival card that should be given you on the plane and your passport to the very, very long (approx 1 hr) queue to get your passport stamped by a miserable, overworked Thai. We were allowed 30 days in the country which is pretty much the norm. By the time we got to baggage claim our bag swirler machine had changed to Hanoi. We checked a few more times and I was just about to shout when I spotted our bags. They’d been pulled off the conveyor belt and left on the floor—a bit worrying, but at least they were there.

The airport isn’t bad—quite well-labeled but stupidly hot and sweaty. The train was pretty easy to find but it’s a bit daft that they have lots of lines all connecting but only show each line’s route on the vending terminal, so had we not printed out the map we’d have no idea where to get off.

Depending on how full the trains are they can be too hot even with the air con. Even Image result for bangkok Train Guesthousethough it was dark out (about 10.00pm), it was crazy humid and about 14 steps after we got off the train station we nearly got ran over. This is what they’re like here: Zebra crossings mean NOTHING, traffic lights are optional and they WILL hit you if you’re in the way. A nice Thai lady helped us find our hotel (kinda) which was just down the side of Hualampong Train Station, called the Train Guesthouse. Not cheap at ฿390. The staff let us in even though we were late, but the room was sooooo sweaty. The air con had broken and we only had a little pink fan to see us through. The room wasn’t much more than a box. It was a pretty pink colour and had little fan decorations all about, but that was little consolation as we woke up later in the night with ants everywhere biting me.

It started raining really hard and we had to go to the 7-11 for food and water. It’s actually nice when it rains sometimes ‘cos it cools you off, but it also means that all the stuff you have to bring with you everywhere (money, passport, phone etc.) needs to be in waterproof bags or they’ll get wrecked—pretty annoying. Water is about ฿14 for 1.5l, bread around ฿35 and crisps ฿25. Nothing special. Can get that stuff cheaper at Aldi back home. People always go on about how cheap it is but I reckon I could live for the same amount in England!